In 2016, The Economist says in this short video, the richest 1 percent of the world's population will, for the first time, have a larger share of global wealth than the other 99 percent.
Wealth and income inequality used to be a topic that concerned mostly leftist and Marxist economists, but this week it is perhaps the major topic of discussion and research at the American Economic Association's annual meeting in San Francisco, The New York Times reports. And the top 1 percent of the wealth isn't even the real story; the biggest gains in wealth have been among the top 0.25 percent of earners, roughly 250,000 people whose income has ballooned in recent decades while the typical American worker is earning roughly the same.
The economists disagree over the consequences and policy prescriptions for the growing wealth chasm, but "this is a truly global phenomenon, and I don’t know any serious economist who would deny inequality has gone up," says Nicholas A. Bloom, a Stanford economics professor. "The debate is over the magnitude, not the direction."
The Times focus on a paper Bloom is writing with four other economists which shows that the top quarter of 1 percent of Americans — those earning $640,000 or more a year — have seen their salaries double from 1981 to 2013, even accounting for inflation, but that the pay of the highest-paid employees at large, successful companies has gone up 140 percent while the wages of the typical employee at these corporate juggernauts have fallen 5 percent. "There's no reason the free market will solve this," says Bloom, whom The Times describes as "a native of Britain whose politics veer toward a laissez-faire approach and the Conservative Party there." You can read more about Bloom's research and the annual AEA meeting at The New York Times. Peter Weber
Former President George W. Bush appears to be having a harder time biting his tongue about President Trump than he did former President Barack Obama. Though Bush has made a point not to critique his successors, in an interview with People published late Monday, Bush opened up about his issues with Trump's America. "I don't like the racism and I don't like the name-calling and I don't like the people feeling alienated," Bush said. "Nobody likes that."
Though Bush admitted Trump's Washington is "pretty ugly," he said he's still "optimistic about where we'll end up." "We've been through these periods before and we've always had a way to come out of it," Bush said. "I'm more optimistic than some."
That's the second time this week Bush has talked about Trump. In an interview Monday morning on NBC's Today, Bush defended the media against Trump's label of "enemy of the American people," insisting the media is necessary to hold "people like me to account" because "power can be very addictive."
President Trump hosted the Fox & Friends gang at the White House on Monday, in an interview that aired Tuesday morning, and Brian Kilmeade noted that Trump has said he thinks his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, actually likes him, despite their political differences and the hard-fought presidential campaign. Kilmeade alleged that the Obama-linked Organizing for America group is organizing a lot of the protests that are spooking Republicans, then asked, "Do you think President Obama is behind it, and if he is, is that a violation of the so-called unsaid president's code?"
"I think he is behind it. I also think it's politics — that's the way it is," Trump said. "I think that President Obama's behind it, because his people are certainly behind it. And some of the leaks possibly come from that group, you know — some of the leaks, which are really very serious leaks, because they're bad in terms of national security. But I also understand that's politics, and in terms of him being behind things, that's politics, and it will probably continue."
Anderson Cooper played that clip on CNN Monday night, and senior political reporter Nia-Malika Henderson said this blaming of Obama "in some ways borders on paranoia." Peter Weber
A poll released on the morning of President Trump's highly anticipated first address to Congress on Tuesday night revealed a majority of Americans think he's stayed true to his campaign promises so far, including border security, jobs, and an ObamaCare repeal. A new Politico/Morning Consult poll found 56 percent said Trump is "staying true to his 2016 campaign message," and 66 percent said he's "accomplished what was expected of him — or more," Politico reported. "While Americans are divided on President Trump's policy agenda, most say he is making headway on it," said Morning Consult's co-founder and chief research officer Kyle Dropp. "An overwhelming majority of Trump's supporters, and even many of his critics, see a president who is delivering on his promises."
Trump agrees. When asked to grade himself during an interview aired Tuesday on Fox & Friends, Trump gave himself an A+ for effort, an A for achievement, and a C or C+ on messaging. "Because I've done great things, but I don't think ... we've explained it well enough to the American public," Trump said.
— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) February 28, 2017
The poll was conducted among 2,000 registered voters between Feb. 24-46, and it has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points. Trump's margin of error is TBD. Becca Stanek
A day after reportedly proposing massive cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency's budget, the White House is expected to move forward Tuesday with an executive order undoing the Obama-era rule Waters of the United States. Though Trump's order rolling back the rule protecting America's major waterways would have "almost no immediate legal effect," The New York Times noted it will "essentially give Mr. Trump a megaphone to direct his Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Scott Pruitt, to begin the process of rewriting" the 2015 regulation.
On Monday, the White House sent another message to Pruitt with a proposal that reportedly suggested cutting a quarter of the EPA's budget and "eventually eliminating 1 in 5 of the agency's workers," Politico reported. The proposed cuts, which one person told Politico were "far more severe than anyone imagined," would lower the EPA's budget to its lowest level since 1991, and leave the EPA the most sparsely staffed it's been since the mid-1980s. The White House did not confirm the figures.
On Monday night, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos issued a statement celebrating historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), as some 90 of their leaders are in Washington to meet with congressional Republicans and President Trump. DeVos started off by lauding HBCUs for helping "students to reach their full potential" ever since their founding. "They started from the fact that there were too many students in America who did not have equal access to education," she said. "They saw that the system wasn't working, that there was an absence of opportunity, so they took it upon themselves to provide the solution."
Then DeVos really doubled down on the self-serving euphemisms. "HBCUs are real pioneers when it comes to school choice," she said. "They are living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and greater quality. Their success has shown that more options help students flourish." DeVos is a big proponent of "school choice," but of course HBCUs were founded because black students did not have any choices. The "system" she said "wasn't working" was segregation. As President George H.W. Bush said in 1991, in a quote you can find on the website of the Education Department, "At a time when many schools barred their doors to black Americans, these colleges offered the best, and often the only, opportunity for a higher education."
Betsy DeVos said HBCUs were about school choice. As if white/colored water fountains were about beverage options. pic.twitter.com/I3tNlER43n
— Resist Dystopia (@AynAyahSteenkur) February 28, 2017
Many of the nation's more than 100 HBCUs, all founded before 1964, are success stories, but it doesn't honor them to downplay their origins or the structural and financial disadvantages they had to overcome. Especially when, according to an article linked to from Trump's official POTUS Twitter account, "Trump seeks to outdo Obama in backing black colleges." Peter Weber
President Trump will address a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night at 9 p.m. Eastern time, looking to refocus his presidency and rally support for his policies from Republicans in Congress and the public at large, amid historically low approval ratings. Trump advisers say the president will tout what he has described as early success fulfilling his campaign promises, and discuss proposals to replace the Affordable Care Act and finance a big infrastructure-rebuilding initiative. Trump has been gathering ideas for his speech from talking with law enforcement officials, coal miners, and union representatives, his aides say, and he was still working on the speech Monday night. This is not a State of the Union Address, which presidents traditionally give after their first year in office. Peter Weber
On Tuesday, special prosecutors in South Korea announced that they will indict Lee Jae-yong, the vice chairman of Samsung Electronics and acting head of the entire Samsung Group corporate empire, on charges of bribery, embezzlement, and other crimes linked to the scandal surrounding impeached President Park Geun-hye and her friend, Choi Soon-sil. Lee, 48, is one of South Korea's most powerful men, and his arrest on Feb. 17 was a big blow to the family business conglomerate founded by his grandfather. He took over effective leadership of Samsung after his father, Lee Kun-hee, fell ill in 2014, and he was widely expected to replace the elder Lee as chairman when he stepped down.
It was this smooth transition from father to son that prosecutors say landed Lee in trouble. He stands accused of paying Park and Choi $36 million in bribes to win government support for the dynastic succession, specifically through a merger of two Samsung businesses, eased by the support of the national pension fund. The announced indictment of Lee and four other Samsung executives, three of whom resigned on Tuesday, is the culmination of a three-month investigation by special prosecutors. On Tuesday, acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn declined to extend the investigation, bringing it to an end without prosecutors questioning Park. Park's impeachment is being adjudicated by the constitutional court; if it is upheld, she could face criminal charges, too. Peter Weber